Photo: On the road to Pindaya.

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Taking photos of children

Posted by somtam2000 on 15/1/2013 at 02:38 admin

British travel writer David Whitley, fresh off a trip to Laos has just published a piece titled "Is it ever ok to take photos of third world villagers?" that delves into the discussion of should tourists really be tramping around villages taking pics of the locals, and their children, in a "traditional" setting.

David rightly asks, how would you feel if a bunch of complete strangers wandered into your front yard and took photos of your household behaving "traditionally". You know, you raking up the leaves (pointless western tradition), your sister watching TV (western religious activity) and Mum doing the ironing (just pointless across all cultures but goes well with the religious experience pumping out of the box against the far wall).

Like David, I wouldn't be too impressed.

Here in Bali, we spend a lot of time at the beach, and with two young blond children, they get photographed a lot. Sometimes it doesn't bother me, especially if it's just a passing shot (and hey, they are gorgeous!) but other times, when people squat right near them, taking dozens of pics, I get really annoyed. At times I'll go and sit between them and the photographer, spoiling the shot (I'm not nearly as photogenic!) but never once, has a stranger walked up to me and said:

"Excuse me, do you mind if I take a picture of your children?"

See, gorgeous :)

So I'd say this isn't just a problem of third world villagers, but rather a more general question of why do so many people not bother to ask? I know in asking, the "natural" state of the photo may be lost, but surely, it is more important to ask?

What do you think?

#1 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,643
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Posted by UsTwo on 15/1/2013 at 05:01

Agree completely.
I always ask before taking personal photos, (as distinct from general crowd shots), and if refused, desist.
Usually, permission is given, and the adult also wants to be in the shot.

#2 UsTwo has been a member since 22/4/2010. Location: Australia. Posts: 71
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Posted by Alexandre8100 on 22/8/2013 at 12:15

I agreed what is said above!!!

Certain two facts on this post unequivocally the best we have all had. Usually I also observed, permission is given and the adult also wants to be in the shot. Everything in this post is completely true!

#3 Alexandre8100 has been a member since 22/8/2013. Posts: 5

Posted by MADMAC on 23/8/2013 at 10:09

My daughter, who is bi-racial but you wouldn't know it to look at her, is a Thai speaking little white girl. She's very cute, very precocious. She gets photograghed by Thais all of the time. They also (complete strangers) come and sit on my porch all of the time. Nobody ever asks permission. People also pinch her cheeks (which she hates and responds to rather unpleasantly, sometimes even violently). I would be really surprised that unless you were really intrusive and obnoxious about it, someone taking a picture at least out where I live would be a problem. Maybe in some real backwaters where people are absurdly superstitious...

#4 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
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Posted by chinarocks on 23/8/2013 at 10:43

I noticed in Chinese villages that the elderly people were very shy about pictures. Even if I was taking a shot of a building or something and they were in sight they would cover up their faces with a scarf etc. I think it is some superstition to do with a camera going into their soul and corrupting it (or something along those lines!).

Okay, I know my reply is not about children but it follows on from MM's point about superstitions...

#5 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 738

Posted by MADMAC on 23/8/2013 at 11:58

Or maybe it's paranoia from the communist era - and who could blame them there?

#6 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
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